Skip to main content

2024 NFL Scouting Combine: What We Learned during Friday's activities in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS -- Friday marked the second day of on-field events and third day of prospect press conferences at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. Defensive backs and tight ends worked out, while quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs stepped up to the podiums. Here are the biggest things we learned from the day's events.

Tune in to NFL Network and NFL+ for live coverage of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.


1) Wiggins runs blazing 40, suffers injury. Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins set a high bar with a scorching 40-yard dash time, but it came at a cost.

Wiggins ran a 4.28-second 40, setting the pace for this year's defensive back group. However, after his 40-yard run, Wiggins was helped off the field with an injury. He received attention from the medical staff before returning to the field with ice on his right leg, telling NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales he suffered a hip flexor injury but expects to be OK for Clemson's pro day on April 6.

Wiggins also told Dales he wasn't satisfied with his 40 time. Notably, Wiggins recorded the 4.28 in spite of a relatively slow 10-yard split time of 1.59 seconds. He entered the combine as analyst Bucky Brooks' No. 2 corner in the draft.

-- Eric Edholm

2) Stock boost to the Max! The pre-draft process is about checking boxes, and it's hard to say anyone's doing a better job of that than Rutgers CB Max Melton.

After turning heads with his inside/outside versatility, footspeed and overall competitiveness at the Senior Bowl, Melton hit Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday and put on a dazzling display in his field workout. Checking in at a densely packed 5-foot-11 and 187 pounds, the former Scarlet Knights standout posted elite numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.39 seconds), vertical leap (40.5 inches) and broad jump (11-foot-4). He also received plaudits for his position work throughout the NFL Network broadcast.

"He could be a second-round pick when it's all said and done," NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said.

Melton's older brother and former Rutgers teammate, wide receiver Bo Melton, was a seventh-round pick of the Seahawks after blazing a 4.34 40 at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, and he emerged as a threat for the Packers this past December. But yes, the younger Melton is trending toward a far higher draft slot.

"Just moving around, he looks like a top-50 player," Jeremiah said.

In addition to the explosive athleticism showcased at the combine, Melton offers a wealth of experience (40 starts over four college seasons) and legit special teams value (SEE: four punt blocks as a dynamic gunner). But the biggest selling point with this prospect is his ability to hold his own on the island as an outside corner OR slide into the slot and deftly handle the different responsibilities on the inside. Unlike some cornerbacks who view a shift to nickel as a downgrade, Melton fully embraces the role.

"Man, I look at that inside position -- it's a fun position," Melton said during his podium session on Thursday. "You get to blitz, you get to be in coverage, man, zone ... You get to do a lot more on the inside, so I look at it as an opportunity. That's a fun position to play."

-- Gennaro Filice

3) No Brock? No problem! Georgia's Brock Bowers has cast a large shadow over the rest of this draft's tight end prospects as the winner of the past two John Mackey Awards (given to the top college TE) and one of the most dynamic playmakers at any position in college football over the past three seasons. But with Bowers opting out of all on-field activities in Indy, he left the spotlight open for the taking -- and Theo Johnson seized the opportunity.

Penn State has routinely churned out elite physical specimens in recent years, and Johnson became the latest Nittany Lion to light up Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday night. At 6-foot-6 1/8 and 259 pounds, the Windsor, Ontario, native cruised through the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds. He acquitted himself quite well in the jumps, too, hitting 39.5 inches in the vertical leap and 10-foot-5 in the broad.

With this performance coming on the heels of a standout week at the Senior Bowl, Johnson's stock could be rising at a position in this draft that lacks established star power beyond Bowers.

"Everything he's done since the season ended -- with the Senior Bowl and here -- has done nothing but help him," Daniel Jeremiah said on the NFL Network broadcast.

Johnson, the No. 4 tight end in draft analyst Bucky Brooks' positional rankings, didn't exactly pile up the numbers in State College, setting career highs this past season with 34 catches and 341 yards. But he also tied for the team lead with seven touchdown grabs. And he offers a truly rare mix of size and athleticism.

-- Gennaro Filice

4) Reiman's star turn. Illinois TE Tip Reiman has made the most of his NFL Scouting Combine experience.

The unheralded blocking tight end earned a little internet notoriety this week with his "birds aren't real" take during media access, asking rhetorically: "Have you ever seen a baby pigeon?" and "How do we know that power lines aren't pigeon recharging stations?"

But Reiman's best work was saved for Friday night's drills and athletic testing. At 6-4 7/8 and 271 pounds, with only 41 receptions over 45 college games with the Illini, Reiman wasn't expected to run as fast as he did in the 40-yard dash, registering matching times of 4.64 seconds on each attempt.

Only five tight ends registered better times this year, led by Washington's Devin Culp (4.47 in his one attempt).

Naturally, Reiman wasn't short-changed during the blocking drills -- blocking is his forte, after all. He pushed the blocking sled about 10 yards quite noisily, farther than any other participating tight end. The Lucas Oil Stadium crowd rewarded Reiman with a cheer as loud as any given to an athlete Friday night.

Between the bird takes and the fast 40s, Reiman's cult status -- and, perhaps, his draft stock -- has seen a noticeable bump this week.

-- Eric Edholm


1) Williams takes center stage. The most anticipated press conference of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine was held on Friday morning, with presumptive No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams stepping to the podium.

Williams was asked about why he declined to participate in the medical exam portion of the combine -- considered an important part of the evaluation process -- telling reporters he plans to check off that box in the weeks leading up to the draft.

"I'll be doing the medical stuff, just not here in Indy," he said. "I'll be doing it at the team interviews. Not 32 teams can draft me. There's only one of me."

There's no debating that last point, with Williams rated the top prospect in the draft and drawing comps to NFL elites like Patrick Mahomes. Not surprisingly, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner is currently the favorite to be picked by the Chicago Bears with the first overall selection in this year's draft.

Williams returned to the media center of the Indiana Convention Center after his press conference, stopping at USC receiver Brenden Rice's podium to play the role of reporter, having some good-natured fun with his former teammate. If the pressure of the moment is getting to Williams at all, he didn't show it when the cameras were rolling on Friday.

-- Dan Parr

2) Maye soaking up wisdom from Eli Manning. North Carolina QB Drake Maye has assembled quite a support staff as he prepares for the NFL.

After growing up in a sports-fueled family with a father and brothers who excelled in college athletics, Maye is now gathering intel on the league from other sources, including former NFL quarterbacks Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, on navigating the pre-draft process.

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's No. 5 prospect in the draft, Maye said he's a "big fan" of Manning, whose backup QB at Ole Miss (David Morris) is helping train Maye in Alabama.

"I think Eli would say he's probably seen me too much. I've been following him around. It's always on Zooms," Maye said. "I think the biggest thing is being a sponge and soaking it all in. I don't have all the answers. I don't know it all."

Eli's best advice to Maye?

"Just be myself, don't be somebody I'm not," Maye said.

Maye also preached flexibility. If he's drafted to be a Day 1 starter, so be it. If he's required to sit and wait, he said he'd understand. After all, even Manning had to wait to start as the No. 1 overall pick, initially sitting behind Kurt Warner.

"It's something that I think would be an advantage," Maye said of not starting immediately. "There are always two sides to it. You see guys where it works out, like Jordan Love. ... You see guys like C.J. (Stroud) right away can be successful.

"Whatever (teams) think, I'm ready for both ways. I'm ready to go in there and compete and be the starter. Obviously, I'm going to have that mindset (as a starter) either way."

-- Eric Edholm

3) J.J. plays to win the game. J.J. McCarthy is arguably the most polarizing quarterback in this year's draft class. His supporters see a pedigreed prospect with athleticism, arm talent and upside; his detractors see an unproven passer who threw for just 857 yards and four touchdowns over the final six games of Michigan's national championship run. In response to the latter group of people, McCarthy cites a different statistic: 27-1, his record as the starter in Ann Arbor.

"Stats, for me, wasn't really the big thing," McCarthy said at his podium session Friday in Indianapolis. "All I cared about was being the best teammate I could possibly be, being the best quarterback I could possibly be, whatever's asked of me. And the only stat I cared about was Ws, and we did pretty good in that category."

J.J.'s winning ways go back to his high school days, when he emerged as a ballyhooed recruit while recording a combined starting record of 36-2 at Nazareth Academy (in his hometown of La Grange Park, Illinois) and IMG Academy (the illustrious football factory in Bradenton, Florida, where McCarthy spent his senior season). But in Michigan's run-first offense, he only reached 300 yards passing in three of his 40 career games (28 starts), spawning questions about his ability to carry an NFL team on the strength of his right arm.

While McCarthy said Friday that hamstring tightness will keep him from participating in the 40-yard dash and the jumps in Indy, he does plan to put his arm on full display during field drills on Saturday.

One person who doesn't have any qualms about the 21-year-old's readiness for taking this next step in his football career? Jim Harbaugh. When McCarthy sat down with his coach this winter to discuss the potential of entering the 2024 NFL Draft as an underclassman, the former Pro Bowl quarterback didn't beat around the bush.

"[The conversation] was quite easy, honestly," McCarthy recalled. "He was somebody that was like, 'Hey, I'm out here thinking of you as if you were my son.' And he told me, 'I want you to go because your draft stock ... It could get higher, but not that much higher. And it's just an opportunity you don't want to pass up.' And just hearing that from him just gave me so much more confidence because that was kind of where my head was leaning towards, and you know, just hearing that was amazing."

In their latest round of mocks, draft gurus Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah both have McCarthy coming off the board in the top half of Round 1.

-- Gennaro Filice

4) Kool-Aid sidelined. Teams anxious to see Alabama CB Kool-Aid McKinstry's athletic testing results will need to wait a little longer.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that the former Crimson Tide star had a Jones fracture discovered in his right foot during his medical evaluation at the combine, which means he will not be working out here in Indianapolis. McKinstry is expected to participate in Alabama's pro day, per Rapoport. Alabama's pro day is scheduled for March 20. analyst Bucky Brooks rates McKinstry the No. 5 cornerback in this year’s draft.

-- Dan Parr

5) After ACL tear, potential RB1 planning to be ready for training camp. Texas' Jonathon Brooks might end up being the first running back selected in the 2024 NFL Draft, but for now he's still working his way back from the injury that ended his 2023 season.

Brooks was steaming toward RB1 status with a brilliant redshirt sophomore season for the Longhorns, running for 1,139 yards and 10 TDs in 10 games before suffering a torn ACL against TCU. Even tougher, it came during a dream season for the Longhorns and after Brooks had waited his turn, sitting behind future NFL backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson the previous two seasons.

But Brooks was confident enough in his health and ability to declare for the draft as an underclassman. He said Friday he's "ahead of schedule" in his rehab from the November injury and that he's beginning to do some light jogging, expecting to be cleared for full contact by early summer.

"I'll be ready by training camp," Brooks said. "The hope is (to be cleared by) July 1."

Even as he's unable to work out, Brooks has been busy meeting teams, both at the combine and previously at the East-West Shrine Bowl. He's confident he'll be able to contribute as a rookie and even has allowed himself to dream about scoring his first NFL touchdown.

His father, Skip, died from kidney failure in March 2022, and Brooks has followed every touchdown since then with a tap of a tattoo on his left arm, honoring his father. Scoring also would signify that Brooks had made it back from the poorly timed injury.

"I've thought about it quite a bit," Brooks said. "In that moment, I'm gonna know ... I've overcome the injury. And also to pay tribute to my dad. He's my biggest supporter, and I know he's going to have a front-row seat for that first touchdown."

-- Eric Edholm

6) A Worthy challenger to the 40 throne? John Ross is the king of the 40-yard dash, having reigned in the combine's banner event since posting a scorching time of 4.22 seconds back in 2017. But a new receiver is eyeing the crown: Xavier Worthy.

An explosive playmaker throughout his three years at Texas, Worthy leaves Austin ranking third in program history in career touchdown receptions (26), fourth in receiving yards (2,755) and sixth in catches (197). Not to mention, he averaged a healthy 14.1 yards per punt return. The biggest key to all that production?

Devastating speed. How will that translate to the Lucas Oil Stadium track on Saturday?

"I want to run 4.2," Worthy said, before confirming that he thinks he's the fastest player at this year's combine and later claiming -- possibly facetiously -- that he could beat a cheetah in a 100-yard race.

Asked if Ross' record could be under threat, given the numbers he's seen in his own training of late, Worthy coolly responded, "I think it's there."

In a wide receiver class that runs the gamut when it comes to body types and play styles, Worthy's field-stretching ability is definitely his trump card, but he doesn't want to be typecast as a one-trick pony.

"Being a speed guy's cool, but I feel like nobody kind of looks at the route-running element of my game," Worthy said. "I have really good routes, if not the best in the class.

"With my speed and the ability to stop ... I feel like a lot of receivers with my speed don't have the ability to stop how I do, so I feel like that's what kind of separates me."

Still, as a home-run hitter with a slighter frame, Worthy draws comparisons to an electric playmaker that he's long admired.

"DeSean Jackson was actually my idol growing up," Worthy said. "That was my favorite player growing up. Watched his film since I was like 5 years old."

-- Gennaro Filice

7) Rome stakes his claim to WR1. Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr. is widely viewed as the top wideout in this prospect pool. But Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. disagrees with the masses, predictably spotlighting his favorite target over the last two years, Rome Odunze.

"He's the No. 1 receiver in the draft," Penix said of his fellow Husky on Friday. "He showed it each and every week."

Asked for his own opinion on the matter at his podium session a short time later, Odunze didn't hesitate to supply his WR1 pick: "Me."

And why is that?

"My versatility," Odunze responded. "On the field, I think I've shown all the skills that can translate to the NFL at a high level and different facets of my game. And I think who I am as a person, who I will be to a locker room, who I'll be in the community are all an A+."

But the man welcomes all debate regarding this deep, talented class at the receiver position.

"Absolutely, that's what it's all about -- saying you're the best and then going and competing for it, right? And I do feel that way, so of course -- it's a competition," Odunze said. "But also, man, all these dudes are ballers, so I'm just super honored to be a part of the conversation and super grateful to be able to compete against guys like that, and I'm a fan of their games, as well."

Honestly, Odunze isn't talking out of school in placing himself at the top of the heap. He led college football with 1,640 receiving yards this past season, helping guide the Huskies to a Pac-12 title and an appearance in the national championship game. While draft analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks both have Odunze as their WR2 behind Harrison, Jeremiah slots the Washington product as his No. 3 overall prospect, behind only the Ohio State wideout and USC quarterback Caleb Williams.

A big-bodied target, Odunze is a monster at the catch point, having just led the FBS with 21 contested catches last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

"People say it's 50/50, for me it's 100/0, right?" Odunze said. "And I feel like you have to go in with that mindset that it's you and the ball, you know? That the defender's not even there."

Don't get it twisted, though: All the jump-ball production doesn't mean Odunze lacks the quickness to separate. The power forward says he's aiming for a sub-4.4 40-yard dash on Saturday.

"I think people underrate my speed, my explosiveness," Odunze said. "And my separation, as well. I don't know where some of those things come from. If you watch the entire tape, then you'll see."

-- Gennaro Filice

Related Content